February 24, 2013

Cornell Responders: Job is ‘One of the Best Things in the World’

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With slippery slopes and gaping gorges — in addition to piles of snow, rain and sleet — a walk through Cornell’s campus can prove treacherous. Cornellians can rest easy, however, thanks to a well-prepared group of emergency responders.

One responder, Jodi Bizari, has worked as an officer for the Cornell University Police Department for more than five and a half years, after she left an office job at a payroll company.

“Have you ever seen the movie Office Space? That was my life. It was horrible. I thought to myself, ‘I have to do something: I can’t do this nine-to-five cubicle life anymore. It makes me crazy,’” Bizari said.

It was then, Bizari said, that she saw a job posting for CUPD. Drawing on her education in criminal justice at the State University of New York at Brockport, she applied for the job. Competing against hundreds of people, Bizari said she earned the position, and within two weeks, had moved to outside of Ithaca, where she began her six-month training at the police academy.

“[At the academy], you didn’t just have to be academically smart. You had to work out every day: you had to be in good physical shape,” Bizari said. “They kind of take you to your breaking point.”

“There was a lot of yelling,” she added.

After successfully completing her training and spending more than five years on the job, Bizari said her favorite part about working on campus is the collaboration between CUPD and the campus judicial system.

“At Cornell, I like that we have that intermediate entity where people can be educated, maybe get in a little bit of trouble, but not have a permanent record, not be scarred for life,” she said.

While Bizari has more recently started working for CUPD, Emergency Manager and volunteer firefighter Dan Maas ’87 has been a part of emergency services since he graduated from Cornell.

Maas now works under the umbrella of the Cornell’s environmental health and safety department, but he started as a volunteer for CUPD in his freshman year and was subsequently hired as a student police auxiliary.

“I worked for [CUEHS] as an undergrad, doing everything from dispatching blue light to wandering around doing night patrol, checking doors — things like that.” Maas said.

Maas said he realized when he graduated how much he loved the Ithaca area — and tried to find a way to stay. He said he applied to the job as a life safety specialist and began working for what would become the Environmental Health and Safety Department, where he still works more than 20 years later.

Maas said he was motivated by his love of exploring the University to take his first job after school.

“Part of the job of being an emergency responder is knowing the campus inside and out. There are folks here whose job is in one building and that’s all they know about the campus,” Maas said. “My job is to know the entire campus, so I really love that.”

Maas works full-time as Emergency Manager, and also volunteers at the Ithaca Fire Department, running the hazmat team. Additionally, he is a part of the campus confined space rescue team, and serves as the advisor to Cornell EMS.

Maas said mentoring CUEMS is one of his favorite jobs on campus because he gets to work with student leaders. One of them, Dan Du Pont ’13, is a crew chief for CUEMS.

Du Pont transferred to Cornell from the University of Pennsylvania his sophomore year after he came to Cornell to visit friends.

“When I was doing my initial college search, I never really had that moment where I came to a campus and fell in love with it, but it definitely happened when I came to Cornell,” Du Pont said.

After seeing a poster for a CUEMS recruiting drive, Du Pont applied and eventually became a member of the highly selective squad.

Through CUEMS, Du Pont said he not only found his passion for emergency medical work, but also his future career.

“Through the introduction that CUEMS gave me I have found a field, pre-hospital care and emergency care which is what I want to do with the rest of my life,” said Du Pont, who switched to a pre-med  track after entering Cornell as a mathematics and physics double major.

Du Pont, who works more than 40 hours a week as a volunteer for CUEMS, said he never regrets the sometimes long hours.

“It’s just incredibly fun. If you like it, it’s one of the best things in the world to do — the excitement of driving to a call, getting onto an extreme scene and being able to help people,” Du Pont said. “If you don’t find it fun, you really can’t stay in it long.”

Original Author: Shane Dunau